What does it mean "a candle held." Where did this expression come from?

"How do you know that? Have you been holding a candle?"Or" Well, how do I know, I did not keep a candle! ". Winged phrases, one way or another associated with the notorious "holding a candle" can be heard in everyday speech quite often. Their value is simple - to be witness to some events, especially those associated with someone's personal, intimate life.

But why the candle? Why do not we say "I did not peek"? And in general, what does it mean to "keep a candle" and where did this expression come from? On this account, there are three different versions - one more interesting than the other.

what does the candle mean

Version number 1. Russian

Supporters of this version suggest: The roots of what the expression "holding a candle" means is to be found in ancient Russia. Then the main meaning of marriage, and in general, life, was considered a continuation of the family. Therefore, the married life of the newlyweds should be the most that neither is "real", with all the intimate details that follow from here.

The relatives of the groom and the bride simply neededsee this. Therefore, one of them remained behind the door of the bedroom and peeped into the crack, taking a candle with him for a better view. Having made sure that everything in young spouses is "in order", this curious immediately ran to tell the rest of the relatives that, they say, heirs will appear - there is nothing to worry about.

what does it mean to hold a candle

Version number 2. French

Another version of what it means to "keep a candle"came to us from France. There there is a curious expression, which is translated "I did not keep a candle there!". They pronounced it against the well-known French gossipers, who did not feed bread, only give details of someone's private life.

And the expression itself, which in French soundsso: Que voulez-vous! Je n "y ai pas tenu la chandelle, most likely, became popular thanks to the engraving of the Italian artist Agostino Caracci, which depicts a couple of lovers for an" interesting "occupation, and next to them a woman holding a candle directly above them to provide them with enough Sveta.

This engraving is so widely known among the French,that they gave it, instead of the original, long and official name, the other - a short and concise. Namely, Tenir la chandelle, which means "hold a candle" or "holding a candle" (about a woman in engraving).

what does it mean to hold a candle

Version number 3. Aristocratic

An interesting version of what "holding a candle" means is connected with a popular anecdote in the Middle Ages.

One lord could not satisfyhis loving spouse. During these unsuccessful attempts, a servant was standing next to the bed and holding a candle so that the young could see better. Finally, the tortured lord, desperate, ordered the servant to exchange places with him, and he himself began to hold a candle.

When the servant really managed to achievesuccess in a delicate matter, the lord did not want to completely smash his face. Therefore, he had no choice but to declare: "Now you see, now you understand how to hold a candle?"

There is one more, rather uncomplicated, buta logical version, with the exact opposite meaning. After all, if a person is in total darkness and holds a lighted candle in his hands, then he himself will not see anything except this candle. That is, he can not be an eyewitness of any events happening around him.

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